BRIVE, France – A Swimming Canada quartet, anchored by Hau-Li Fan, placed second in a team relay race at the LEN Open Water Swimming Cup Friday afternoon at Lac du Causse in Brive, France.
Kate Sanderson, Canada’s first swimmer, said conditions on the lake course were similar to those facing competitors during the individual 10-kilometre races on Thursday.
“It was a little bit of a rough start when things were a little choppy and I got stuck behind some people,” said Sanderson, a 19-year-old Toronto native.
“It lengthened out after we got past the first buoy,” she said. “It helped to know where the buoys were after the first day. Once we got past the first buoy, things started to improve.”
The Canadian team was in 16th place after Sanderson’s efforts around the 1,250-metre course. One female and 14 males were clocked ahead of Sanderson, before Jon McKay (Pacific Coast Swimming) took over.
McKay worked his way into third place, which Chantel Jeffrey (Island Swimming) and Fan (UBC Thunderbirds) held. Fan was coming off an impressive seventh-place finish against a strong field in the individual competition on Thursday.
The Canadian foursome finished third, but the second-place team was an exhibition ensemble so Sanderson, McKay, Jeffrey and Fan were awarded the silver medal.
The Canadian team was clocked in 58:06.85. The winning team from France posted a time of 56:10.28.
McKay, a 23-year-old Victoria, B.C. native, said he just wanted to keep Canada’s momentum going after Sanderson’s swim.
“It was a good race and I could see that Kate held her position well,” he said. “We were in good position and I just wanted to set the rest of the race up well for Hau-Li and Chantel.”
Head coach Mark Perry said the goal of the relay was to gain experience before this summer’s team event at the FINA World Championships in Korea in July.
The Canadians have not had much open water relay experience so the Brive event was great warm-up against 43 strong opponents.
“Countries don’t get many chances to practise the team event so this was a vital part of our preparation for the world championships,” Perry said.
“It’s very encouraging to see that our strategy is sound and we’re delighted to get a medal.”
Fan and Jeffrey will move on to join the Canadian contingent at the week-long Best Fest open water swimming festival, which begins Saturday in Mallorca, Spain.